One year after Donald J. Trump entered the White House, an estimated 800 people filled Frances Stevens Park in Palm Springs on Saturday, wielding signs and sporting pink hats, to support women – and oppose the commander-in-chief.
Some called it a Women’s March; others called it a Resistance March.
The name of the peaceful rally didn’t seem to matter. They were united in their mission of resistance to Trump. The event also served as a rallying cry to get out the vote in the upcoming 2018 midterm election.
“The real march is the one to the polls,” said former Democratic U.S. Sen. Barbara Boxer, a Rancho Mirage resident and featured speaker.
As the rally got underway at 11:30 a.m., participants were washed in sunshine and enjoyed 63-degree temperatures. The day did not start off that way. The sky was cloudy, rain seemed probable and there were gusting winds, which were not lost on Boxer.
“Those are the winds of change,” she told crowd to an uproarious cheer.
U.S. Democratic Congressman Dr. Raul Ruiz was scheduled to appear at the rally but got stuck in Washington, D.C., because of the government shutdown. His staff maintained a high profile on his behalf.
Boxer addressed the shutdown in a way only she could. Who is responsible, she asked.
“The Republicans,” she said raising her voice. “It’s not complicated.”
Poised with cameras and cell phone cameras, participants elbowed their way to the front of the pack to snap her photo. They hung on her every word, some hushing those talking.
“We have a president who has taken a wrecking ball, a wrecking ball (to our country),” Boxer said. “And, we aren’t going to take it anymore. We need a president who has our backs, not one who slaps our face every day.”
The crowd went wild.
Boxer served 24 years in the U.S. Senate, leaving in January 2017.
“Just because I left the Senate doesn’t mean I stopped loving the country,” Boxer said. “We are going to fight.”
Again, the crowd cheered. They could not get enough of her.
Riverside County Fourth District Supervisor V. Manuel “Manny Perez also received a deafening response when he asked, “Is the progressive moment still alive?”
“Yes,” the crowd shouted.
Again, Perez asked, “Is the progressive movement still alive?”
In deafening unison, the crowd answered, “Yes.”
“I am here in solidarity,” Perez said before continuing with his remarks.
Participants were scooping up T-shirts emblazoned with the phrase, “Make America Think Again!” and caps inscribed with “Make America Sane Again.” Some of the T-shirts even sold out.
Katie Nash, 15, from Los Angeles, brandished a sign, “No Trump, No KKK, No Fascist, USA. She said there is only one thing that bothers her about Trump. That, she said, is “his existence.” Period. Full stop.
Her friend, Bey Weston, 15, also from Los Angeles, carried a sign with this statement, “Let’s abort this presidency in its first term.”
“I feel really strongly about women’s issues,” Weston said. “I always try to fight for equality. I’m so happy to be here. (Trump) is going against a lot of people’s rights. He’s using stereotypes to enforce hate in America.”
Shelley Somerville, Palm Springs resident, wielded a sign that said, “I am no longer accepting the things I cannot change … I am changing the things I cannot accept.” She borrowed the line from Angela Y. Davis, a political activist.
“I stand for human rights,” Somerville said. “And, we have a traitor leading our government who is taking from the poor to give to the rich. I am standing up to be counted.”
Another Palm Springs resident, Robert Wirtz, proudly held his sign and posed for photos. He let it do most of the talking. “Don’t let Trump’s racism turn America into a shithole country,” it said.
“We are here today to work together to bring back sanity to this country,” Wirtz said.
Robert Rickey is one of the Coachella Valley’s famed snowbirds. He is from Calgary, Alberta, Canada and spends four to six months in the desert.
“I don’t like the notion that your president has used hookers,” Rickey said. “He had sex with (Stormy Daniels) and paid her off. That kind of meets my definition of a hooker.”
Rickey said he also attended the rally to support women. “I believe in the power of women. They are going to straighten this country out. Heaven knows men have messed it up pretty good.”
Cathedral resident Randy Steele said Trump is devoid of morals. “It starts with basic human decency. He’s trying to divide us, not united us.”
Asked if he should be impeached, Steele said he did not think that is necessarily the solution. “I don’t think it’s going to lead to his leaving.”
One after another rally-goers were eager to voice their concerns. This was the day to let off steam publicly and have comfort knowing you were of like minds.
“The world has lost faith in us,” said Craig Foster of Palm Springs. “We look like buffoons for voting him into office.
Lisa Davenport, his wife, also chimed in. The couple is traveling to Las Vegas on Sunday for the Power to the Polls event.
“We wanted to show support in our hometown,” Davenport said. “We need to show and demonstrate our passion for these issues. We are shifting the focus to get out the vote. We can’t just vote Republicans out. We have to vote them out overwhelmingly and not just Trump, but the entire Republican administration. We need to gain back respect of the world.”
After the speeches concluded, participants marched from East Alejo Road to East Tahquitz Canyon Way. As they walked, passersby honked in support and snapped photos.
Sgt. Mike Villegas with the Palm Springs Police Department said five police officers staffed the event. When organizers applied to hold the event, they predicted 300 people would attend. The crowd was more than double the size, Villegas said.
“It’s a great turnout,” Villegas said. “Everybody’s behaving. Everybody’s peaceful.”
The rally was sponsored and supported by the 1,700 local members of Courageous Resistance California, Democratic Headquarters of the Desert, 10 Democratic clubs of the Coachella Valley and numerous Democratic elected officials.